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Depending on where you are coming from, South Korea can appear as quite a surprising country. Whether it is about its local food, a way of life, transportation system or entertainment industry, you may be curious about a lot of things while planning your trip to Korea. Here are some explanations about the country which can be of good use to you or just satisfy your curiosity. And if there is anything else that you’re wondering about, don’t hesitate and ask us in the comment section 😉

Things to know before coming to Korea - heonggyecheon

– Restaurants in Korea

Korean restaurants are organized quite differently from what you can find in other parts of the world. Firstly, if you enter a traditional Korean restaurant you may have to take off your shoes and sit on thin mats on the floor in front of a low table: this is Korea’s traditional eating style. Apart from this, there are other worth noting details about the common Korean restaurants. Many restaurants are organised in a self-service way. You will find your chopsticks and spoon (and fork and knife in some cases) already at your table in a box, there will be a water fountain at the restaurant’s entry (Koreans tend to drink only at the end of the dinner) and sometimes kimchi and radish as well will be available on self-service.

Some restaurants have what we can call a “call button” at each table so that you can call a waiter right away if you need something. And last thing, usually you will have to pay at the front counter and not at your table. And sometimes you’ll have pay when you make the order. Don’t be surprised if you have toilet paper instead of actual napkins at your table, it is quite common too.

If you don’t want to go out and like to order food, South Korea is the perfect country for you! A myriad of restaurants offers the delivery service, including McDonald! If you have a Korean phone number, we know some delivery applications who may be useful to you such as the popular Yogiyo or Baedari-minjok (but you may need a Korean friend to explain to you how to use it).

Things to know before coming to Korea
Traditional Korean Restaurant                                                            Modern restaurant in Itaewon

– Shopping in Korea

In South Korea, most of the shops are open all day and 7 days a week! Big market areas such as Namdaemun or Dongdaemun are open 24 hours a day while other areas like Hongdae or Myeongdong tend to open around 10 am until 10 pm. Also, if you need something in the middle of the night, the country is full with 24h convenience stores that provides all kinds of first necessity items.

If you’re planning on buying clothes in Korea, you may need a Korean size chart as foreign sizes aren’t always noted on the clothes labels. Even though you can find western clothing shops such as H&M or Zara, the size range may still be more limited than in your own country. Especially if you are a tall man with big feet, be prepared to hop on an impossible quest! Some shops also provide unique sizes only, with no fitting room available, so avoid those ones if you do not want to end disappointed.

Female clothes size chart / Male clothes size chart / Shoes size chart

Things to know before coming to Korea
Cosmetic shops in Myeongdong                                                         Convenience store on a street corner

– Waste recycling system in Korea

Korea’s waste recycling system is very strict and quite confusing for foreigners at first. First, you won’t find many public garbage cans in the streets. So keeping a plastic bag with you may come to good use. Then you may face situations where you have to do your own sorting. For example, coffee shops may ask you to sort paper from plastics from ice cubes, etc. If you’re not sure about it and doesn’t want to make a mistake, you can kindly ask an employee to do it for you!

If you’re planning to live in Korea for several months, this blog post may interest you, as it explains the waste sorting system in detail. You may need to buy special disposable bags, available at most convenience stores. Don’t search for it in the shop, ask directly at the counter! Sorting your garbage is important as citizens are subject to fines if done badly, and more importantly, it is good for our environment!

Things to know before coming to Korea
Recycling garbage cans in the street                                                           Waste sorting in a coffee shop

– Internet in Korea

If you come on vacation to South Korea, you may notice that the country’s Internet system is fairly impressive, as it is the most wired country in the world. First, when arriving at Incheon Airport you will be able to use the free WiFi unlimited service. When venturing to Seoul you will find free WiFi everywhere! Well not technically everywhere, but at least in a large number of places.

First, most coffee shops provides free WiFi. You will generally find the WiFi name and password on a poster near the counter or on your receipt. That is why a lot of people stay for hours in those coffee shops, working on their computers. But be careful, as some places are being more strict lately, asking you to leave if you don’t make a new order. You’ll also be able to get free WiFi quite randomly while wandering on the streets. The government decided to install 10 000 free public WiFi zones in Seoul! Especially in popular touristic places such as Cheonggyecheon Stream or Ganghwamun, you’ll probably be able to use it.

If those free WiFi zones are still not enough for you, you can still rent a pocket WiFi egg at the airport for a few bucks a day!

Things to know before coming to Korea
Seoul Free Public Wifi Zones                                                                    Free Wifi at Incheon Airport

 – Transportation system in Korea

In Korea the transportation system is particularly well-organized with domestic flights (a total of 9 civil airports), railways, subways, buses, ferries and taxis which will enable you to travel all around the country. The first thing to get when arriving to Korea is the T-money card. It can be bought for around 2500KRW at any convenience store. Later, it can be recharged through the card recharging terminals available in every subway station. This card gives you a discount on transportation fees and can be used for many public transportation services. Some of them can be used not only in Seoul but also in other cities across the country.

On the subway there are priority seats which are reserved for the elderly, pregnant women and injured people. They are situated on the side of each carriage and if you don’t want to be reprimanded or be the target of very bad stares, then avoid those seats at all costs! Korean society gives a huge importance to helping each other, and elderly are always to be treated more carefully. So keep it in mind and you’ll get to notice a lot of details like this during your trip in Korea.

Things to know before coming to Korea
Seoul subway interior                                                                              T-money card

 – Alcohol in Korea

Whether you come in Korea for vacations, business, an exchange semester or internship, sooner or later you are most likely to be confronted to the local alcohols. Alcohol is an important part in Korean society and that’s why you should know a bit more about it beforehand. Korea’s most popular alcohol is Soju, which is made from rise and is the most consumed liquor in the world! Its alcohol content goes from 18% to 45% for the traditional Andong Soju and can be quite strong for newcomers. Fortunately, nowadays more fruit-flavored sojus (called “mixju”) are being industrialized to fit the taste of a larger range of customers. For example, you will be able to find yuja or blueberry soju. Koreans also like to mix soju with beer and call this “somaek”.

The other popular national alcohol is Makgeolli. It is a traditional rice-fermented drink with quite a milky/creamy aspect and an alcohol content way lower than soju (around 6~8%). It was traditionally served in big metal or wooden bowls. But now is available in plastic bottles at every convenience store!

Things to know before coming to Korea
Soju                                                                                                 Makgeolli

– Korea Private Tour

If you need a guide or want to have a comfortable and unique tour, don’t hesitate to book our services.

We provide a large selection of Korea Tour Packages with a private transportation service (including hotel pick and drop off), an English tour guide and photo shooting. Seoul tours, Busan tours, Jeju tours, DMZ tours, Extreme sports tours, Korean cooking experiences and so on. Don’t worry if you can’t find anything of your liking in our list of tours. Just contact us and we will do our best to find something for you!

Check our main page for the largest selection of Seoul Private Tours and Korea Private Tours.

Things to know before coming to Korea
Private Tour in Nami Island                                                         Private Tour in Bukchon Hanok Village

Have a nice trip in South Korea!

OnedayKorea

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